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Water

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Fluoride in Bottled Water
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Did you know that bottled water is about 500 times more expensive than tap water? Despite this fact, many Americans (myself included) buy billions of bottles of water every year.

In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan was the first city to add fluoride to the public water supplies.  Fluoride makes teeth more resistant to cavities, but with so many people turning to bottled water these days, are they still getting the benefits of fluoride?

I decided to investigate the amount of fluoride in bottled water by taking a look at 13 popular bottled water brands and finding out how much fluoride each bottled water brand contains.

I was fairly successful in finding out, except for one brand, but I should be getting something in the mail from them if things go right!

Fluoridated Bottled Water - Photos Courtesy of Manufacturers

How Much Fluoride is In Bottled Water?

Many people claim that bottled water doesn’t contain any fluoride. While analyzing 13 of the more popular bottled waters in the United States, I found out that all of these bottled waters do contain some fluoride.

Here’s the results of each bottled water brand and how much fluoride it contains.  You can skip down to the bottom for a summary graph.

Aquafina

Aquafina claims that their bottled water contains less than 0.05 ppm fluoride in the Aquafina Water Quality Report (PDF), however the U.S. Department of Agriculture did some testing and found the average to be .05 ppm fluoride with some bottles of Aquafina containing up to 0.09 ppm fluoride.

Arrowhead

According to the Arrowhead Quality Report (PDF), Arrowhead brand spring water contains anywhere from less than 0.1 to 1.3 ppm fluoride.

Crystal Geyser

How Much Fluoride Is In Bottled Water?Crystal Geyser brand Contains Anywhere from 0.088 to 0.74 ppm fluoride depending on which of their six bottling plants the spring water comes from according to the Crystal Geyser FAQ Page.

Below is a link to the bottled water quality report for all six bottling plants. Crystal Geyser appears to be the most transparent bottled water company when it comes to divulging their fluoride levels.

The Crystal Geyser Benton, Tennessee spring contains 0.088 ppm fluoride.
The Crystal Geyser Moultonborough, New Hampshire spring contains 0.16 ppm fluoride.
The Crystal Geyser Mt. Shasta, California spring contains 0.25 to 0.34 ppm fluoride.
The Crystal Geyser Norman, Arkansas spring contains 0.11 ppm fluoride.
The Crystal Geyser Olancha Peak, California spring contains 0.61 to 0.74 ppm fluoride.
The Crystal Geyser Salem, South Carolina spring contains 0.29 ppm fluoride.

Dasani

Dasani’s Water Quality Report (PDF) only states that fluoride was not detected above 0.8 ppm. Not very specific, if you ask me!

Since Dasani water is simply purified municipal water that is filtered via reverse osmosis, most of the fluoride is removed from Dasani water before the bottle makes it into your hands.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s study found that Dasani bottled water contains on average, 0.07 ppm fluoride, with values ranging anywhere from 0.02 to 0.19 ppm fluoride among the 20 Dasani water bottles that were tested.

Deer Park

Deer Park spring water contains <0.10 to 0.19 ppm fluoride according to the Deer Park Water Quality Report (PDF).

Deja Blue

Deja Blue appears to contain less than 0.10 ppm fluoride based on this report.

After one unanswered email and two calls to Dr. Pepper/Snapple (the first time they routed me to Kellog Cereals for some reason) they couldn’t tell me how much fluoride was in their water, all I got was, “I’m sorry, but we do not have that information available.”

I then asked for a bottled water quality report, and she said that she thought they could send that to me. I gave them my address and if they send it to me, I will update this section. I’m under the impression that they legally have to provide a water quality report to inquiring consumers, but I’m not a lawyer!

Evian

Evian’s Water Quality Report (PDF) states that Evian contains less than 0.10 ppm fluoride. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s study pins Evian’s fluoride content right at 0.10 ppm fluoride, with values ranging from 0.07 ppm to 0.15 ppm fluoride.

FIJI

FIJI artesian water contains 0.29 ppm fluoride according to the FIJI Water Quality Report (PDF).

Ice Mountain

Ice Mountain contains a trace amount of fluoride up to a maximum of 0.072 ppm fluoride according to the Ice Mountain Bottled Water Quality Report (PDF).

Nestle Pure Life

Contains trace amounts of fluoride up to 0.13 ppm fluoride per the Nestle Pure Life Bottled Water Quality Report (PDF).

Ozarka

Ozarka natural spring water contains 0.07 to 0.088 ppm fluoride according to the Ozarka Bottled Water Quality Report (PDF). Interestingly, they also show that their fluoridated spring water contains 0.77 ppm fluoride.

Poland Spring

Poland Spring bottled water contains 0.075 to 0.17 ppm fluoride according to the Poland Springs Water Quality Report (PDF). They also state that their fluoridated brand of spring water contains 0.86 ppm fluoride. It’s interesting that both Ozarka and Poland Spring, which are owned by Nestle, appear to add differing amounts of fluoride to their fluoridated subset of drinking waters.

Zephyrhills

Zephyrhills spring water contains 0.064 to 0.13 ppm fluoride according to the Zephyrhills Water Quality Report (PDF)

Summary of Fluoride Concentrations in Bottled Water

Here’s a summary graph showing how much fluoride is present in the various brands of bottled water.

Fluoride Concentration of Bottled Water

Another note I forgot to add to the graph is that when the bottled water quality reports stated that there was an “undetected amount” or that it was “below the minimum reporting limit” I simply used 0.01 ppm fluoride in the graph above.

Bonus Fluoride Fact!

Since I love Perrier sparkling water so much, I did some research to find out how much fluoride it contains. Perrier contains 0.18 ppm fluoride according to the Perrier Water Quality Report.

Questions, Comments, and Concerns about Fluoride in Bottled Water?

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the amount of fluoride in bottled water, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.

Also, in order to find out which bottled waters to include, I took the top 20 bottled waters worldwide, then picked out 13 that are widely sold in the United States.  If you’re curious about the amount of fluoride in a different brand of bottled water, simply ask in the comments and I’ll try to find out.

Water Fluoridation: Where I Stand
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This is the final post dealing with water fluoridation in my week-long series discussing both sides of the water fluoridation debate.

Is Water Fluoridation Good?Hopefully you enjoyed the articles this week.  If not, don’t worry!  I’ll be back into my regular oral health writing routine next week.

If you missed the two previous articles, each of them explored one side of the water fluoridation debate.  You can read them by following the links below:

Top 10 Reasons to Support Water Fluoridation

Top 10 Reasons to Oppose Water Fluoridation

In this article, I’ll share a few of my own thoughts on the water fluoridation issue.

Where I Stand on Water Fluoridation

I do see valid arguments to both sides, and to be quite honest, I’m torn.  I think that the best way to express my feelings on the water fluoridation issue is to talk about two children — first, my son, and then someone else’s son.

Water Fluoridation

My Son and Water Fluoridation

I brush my children’s teeth every night before they go to bed.  When I started using fluoride toothpaste with my son, I made sure he spit it out.  I feel like my wife and I are in charge of his oral health, and that he wouldn’t have any cavities with or without water fluoridation.  With that said, I think that the only thing that would happen to my son as a result of drinking fluoridated water would be mild dental fluorosis.

We get fluoride from a number of sources.  I sometimes wonder if water fluoridation will provide enough extra fluoride to push him over the edge and cause his teeth to have the white speckled appearance characteristic of mild dental fluorosis.

Contrast this with the story below.

Another Child and Water Fluoridation

Now, imagine another child who grew up with parents who don’t really care about oral health.  We’ll call him Leroy.  Leroy’s parents let him eat candy all day and they are too busy to worry about brushing his teeth.  Water fluoridation is the only thing that Leroy has working in his favor when it comes to oral health.  His parents don’t even take him to the dentist.

In Leroy’s case, water fluoridation could potentially keep his baby teeth in good enough shape that he doesn’t get an infection from a tooth with a large cavity.  In this case, water fluoridation is a great thing!  The fluoride he receives every day when drinking could keep that little boy from having to go to the hospital due to a dental infection.

Should Both Kids Drink Fluoridated Water?

When you look at my son and Leroy, you can see that some people would benefit greatly from fluoride while other people could end up with enamel fluorosis and be embarrassed because of their teeth.

In an ideal situation, my son wouldn’t have to drink the fluoridated water.  In fact, he would probably give his fluoridated water to Leroy so that he could get a double dose of dental protection.  Unfortunately, water fluoridation is an all-or-nothing deal.  You can’t selectively fluoridate certain people’s water because that would be construed as discrimination.

This problem has led me to a lot of thinking.  It made me wonder if water fluoridation is the best way to get fluoride to kids like Leroy.

Is Water Fluoridation the Best Method?

There are alternatives.  Switzerland has had some success fluoridating the salt.  This would be relatively easy to do.  In 1924, Morton started putting iodine in salt.  They did this because iodine deficiency is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation.

In the book Fluoride in Dentistry, author Ole Fejerskov states, “Water fluoridation reaches everybody, a major advantage in terms of oral health and a problem in terms of social policy for those who dislike the overtones of compulsion. When domestic salt with added fluoride appears along-side non-fluoridated salt on the supermarket shelves, consumers have a choice. This makes fluoridated salt more palatable from the social policy viewpoint, but weakens its caries-preventive impact across the whole population.”

Salt fluoridation does have its drawbacks, which I will discuss in another article, but it is something to think about.

Since we began adding fluoride to water over 60 years ago, a lot has changed.  We are now surrounded by toothpastes with fluoride, mouth rinses with fluoride, and floss that is coated in fluoride.  Fluoride is even found in many of the packaged foods and drinks we consume.  I think we are ingesting too much fluoride.  Apparently that is the prevailing opinion, one which brought about the recent recommendations to reduce the amount of fluoride in our drinking water.

Conclusion

As you can see from what I’ve written above, I am both for and against water fluoridation.  One might say that although I’m in favor of using fluoride in appropriate doses, I see some definite problems with the mass water fluoridation that we see across much of the country.

Where do you stand?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

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10 Reasons to Oppose Water Fluoridation
©Maxim Blinkov/Shutterstock.com

Ever since communities started fluoridating their water, there have been people that are adamantly opposed to water fluoridation.

As you can see in the 1950’s era flyer to the right, some people even alleged that water fluoridation was some kind of communist plot to overthrow the American government.

Was Water Fluoridation a Communist Plot?Some of the arguments of anti-fluoridationists are very extreme and therefore seem like they are not based in truth.  I think that when people hear outlandish arguments alleging fluoride to be a giant conspiracy, they don’t take the anti-fluoridationists very seriously.  Because of this, I think that the many sound arguments against water fluoridation that do exist are never fully considered by the general population.

In the following article, I’ve attempted to consolidate ten of the best arguments against water fluoridation.  If you want to take a look at the opposing viewpoint, you can check out yesterday’s article, Top 10 Reasons to Support Water Fluoridation.

Top 10 Reasons to Oppose Water Fluoridation

Reasons to Oppose Water Fluoridation

1 – Water Fluoridation Is Associated with Dental Fluorosis

Dental fluorosis is a condition resulting from a child ingesting too much fluoride while the permanent teeth are developing.  In its mildest form, faint white specks can be seen on the teeth.  In more severe forms, the teeth can appear brown and mottled.

Dental fluorosis has been found to be more common in children that consume fluoridated water.  One source for this claim is this article published in the Journal of the American Dental Association in October of 2010.

Want to know more? Read this article about dental fluorosis.

2 – Water Fluoridation is a One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Water fluoridation assumes that every person needs the same amount of fluoride.  It also assumes that everyone drinks about one liter of water per day.  While those statements may sound great in theory, the truth is that people are varied and have different needs.

Not everybody needs the same amount of fluoride.  People with poor oral hygiene may benefit from more fluoride while those with perfect oral hygiene who brush with fluoride toothpaste and floss could easily have a clean bill of oral health without water fluoridation.

The ideal situation would be to have people talk with their dentist about how much fluoride they actually need.  That way the dentist can assist the parents by providing an accurate assessment of their child’s fluoride needs.

3 – Water Fluoridation Prescribes a Drug to Everyone

Fluoride is technically considered a drug, since it does alter the way the body works. When fluoride is added to the drinking water, everyone gets prescribed a drug regardless of their individual situation.  A doctor would never prescribe a drug without taking into account the medical history of a patient, so it is interesting that communities allow everyone to “be prescribed” fluoride by putting it in their water source.

4 – There Is No Informed Consent with Water Fluoridation

If people are going to be drinking fluoridated water, it seems logical that they should be aware of any risks and benefits. A main problem with water fluoridation is that many people don’t really know the main benefits and risks.  The main benefit of fluoride is in reducing tooth decay.  The main risk is getting dental fluorosis.

To illustrate an example of this, in the cover story of the October 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, it recommended to not use fluoridated water to mix baby formula.  It states:

“If liquid concentrate or powdered infant formula is the primary source of nutrition, it can be mixed with water that is fluoride-free or contains low levels of fluoride to reduce the risk of fluorosis. These include water labeled as purified, demineralized, deionized or distilled, as well as reverse-osmosis filtered water. Many stores sell these types of drinking water for less than $1 per gallon.”

I highly doubt that very many parents even know that they aren’t supposed to be mixing infant formula with fluoridated water.  Even if they did, for some families it may be an excessive financial burden to continuously purchase reverse-osmosis filtered water for their baby.  Is it fair that a baby can’t even drink from the public water supply without endangering the appearance of their permanent teeth?

In light of this situation, the anti-fluoridation website Fluoride Action Network has started a petition to require water utility companies to add the following statement to all of their customers’ bills:

“Your public water supply is fluoridated. Fluoridated water should not be used or added to infant formula, foods, or drinks intended for babies 12 months of age or younger in order to avoid dental fluorosis.”

5 – Water Fluoridation is Mass Medication Without Choice

Many people believe that health matters are a personal choice and that they should not be forced to drink water that has been medicated with fluoride.

6 – The Water Supply Should Be Used for Delivering Water, Not Medicine

What if the gas company tried to sneak an additive into the gas supply that was touted to improve your health, but it also had some drawbacks?  Do you think that the utility companies should focus on delivering quality utilities or adding health-promoting chemicals to the utilities you consume? Many would argue that the same logic applies to water fluoridation and that people should be supplied with water and water alone.

7 – Water Fluoridation Takes Away Personal Responsibility

Water fluoridation is one example of the government trying to do things for the people.  It is a person’s responsibility to learn about the pros and cons of fluoride and then decide if they want to utilize fluoride in their oral health routine.  By allowing the government to make this choice for us, personal responsibility is diminished.

8 – Tooth Decay is Decreasing In Countries Without Water Fluoridation

The main reason that fluoride is added to water is to reduce cavities.  A recent article in the British Medical Journal contains a thought provoking graph that illustrates the downward trend in cavities over the past 40 years in 12 year-old children in Europe regardless of the fluoridation status of their country.

9 – Nobody Keeps Track of How Much Fluoride You Swallow

Let’s say you’re an avid jogger and you drink a LOT of water everyday.  Water fluoridation is based on the assumption that you’ll only drink around 1 liter of water per day.  What are you supposed to do if you’ve already had too much fluoride for the day and you’re thirsty?

Would you know if you’ve been ingesting too much fluoride?

On the other side of the spectrum, consider that the bottled beverage industry has grown explosively since water fluoridation began in 1945.  In 1945, most people drank tap water or beverages that were made from tap water.  With bottled beverages (such as water) so popular now, many people are not getting fluoride in the intended dose.

Learn how much fluoride is in bottled water.

Has fluoridating water become irrelevant?

10 – Where do you Draw the Line?

Ted Ferrioli, an Oregon state senator, has said that putting chemicals in the public’s drinking water takes away people’s choice and sets a bad precedent.  He states, “If I can fluoridate your water, where do I draw the line?”

I remember attending a dental public health lecture during my first year of dental school where the lecturer extolled the benefits of water fluoridation.  After the class, one of my friends went up and talked to her.  He asked her if she thought it would be a good idea to put other vitamins and minerals in the public water supply.  The lecturer replied that this was a topic that they have been researching.

Anti-Water Fluoridation Resources

If you want to learn more about the arguments against fluoridation, here are some of the sites dedicated to eliminating fluoride from the public water supply:

I don’t necessarily agree with everything contained in the sites in the four links above, but I thought it was important to include them to provide a balanced view of the water fluoridation issue.

What do You Think?

Are there any good anti-fluoridation arguments that I missed?  What are your views on water fluoridation?

I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!

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10 Reasons to Oppose Water Fluoridation
©Dmitry Naumov/Shutterstock.com

You’re either with us, or against us” has been a popular quotation throughout history.  I think that phrase describes the water fluoridation debate fairly well.  There are many people against fluoride being added to their water, and many people that support the addition of fluoride to the public water supplies.

Reasons to Support Water FluoridationI’ve felt caught in the middle.  In my dental school we are bombarded with presentations on the benefits of water fluoridation and much of academia doesn’t seem to acknowledge that there are good arguments on both sides of the water fluoridation debate.

Today and tomorrow I’m going to try to give the best arguments for and against water fluoridation so that you can be more informed and decide which side you fit with.  Or, maybe this balanced view will leave you feeling much like me — stuck in the middle.

Top 10 Reasons to Support Water Fluoridation

1 – Water Fluoridation Saves Teeth

Water fluoridation prevents cavities — obviously, this is the main reason why fluoride is added to public water supplies.  Systematic reviews are considered near the top when it comes to reliable evidence because they comb through all of the studies on a certain topic, weed out the unreliable studies, and publish the combined results of the best studies.

In 2000, the British Medical Journal published a systematic review on the effectiveness of water fluoridation at reducing cavities.  The following sentence comes from their results:

“Water fluoridation was associated with an increased proportion of children without caries and a reduction in the number of teeth affected by caries.”

When cavities are prevented, teeth last longer.

2 – Water Fluoridation Strengthens Teeth

By drinking fluoridated water, you can incorporate fluoride into the enamel of your teeth.  When fluoride is present in your teeth, it makes them more resistant to being dissolved by acid.

Learn more about the three ways fluoride strengthens your teeth.

3 – Water Fluoridation Is Accessible to Everyone

Many people can’t afford to routinely go to the dentist for a checkup and cleaning — water fluoridation allows them to improve their oral health free of charge.  Fluoridated water helps both rich and poor alike.

4 – Water Fluoridation Saves Everybody Money

Unlike many public health measures, water fluoridation ends up saving money.  It can save individuals money by preventing cavities which allows you to avoid paying a dentist for a filling.  On a national level, it can save taxpayer dollars by preventing cavities in those who are insured by programs such as Medicaid.

The CDC has estimated that for every dollar invested in water fluoridation in communities of over 20,000 people, $38 in dental care is avoided.

5 – Water fluoridation Is Natural

Fluoride is naturally found in the water supply. Here’s a world map that shows where the water is naturally fluoridated at 1.5 PPM or above. Opponents of water fluoridation may argue that since water is fluoridated with a different type of fluoride, it’s hazardous. You can read more about that below.

Find out now: Is water fluoridated with toxic waste?

6 – The Fluoride Concentration Used In Public Water Supplies is Safe

Many opponents of water fluoridation claim that since fluoride is toxic in large quantities, we shouldn’t be adding poison to our water supply.  I would argue that most anything is toxic in excessive amounts.  Even water can kill you if you drink too much too quickly.  In small concentrations, fluoride is beneficial.

The Environmental Protection Agency sets maximum acceptable limits for many different substances that are in the water supply.  They have set the maximum limit for fluoride at 4.0 PPM.  A majority of fluoridated water contains fluoride at a concentration of 1.0 PPM.  That’s only ¼ of the allowable level.

7 – Water Fluoridation is Easy to Utilize

All you have to do is drink water and your teeth get the benefits of fluoride.  Since many people drink water when they’re thirsty, they can get the benefits of fluoride without even thinking about it.  People are more likely to drink water than they would be to rinse with a fluoride rinse every day.

8 – Water Fluoridation is Cheap

This study determined that depending on the community size and method of calculation used, water fluoridation costs between $0.46 and $3.44 per person every year.

That’s not much money considering that a filling can cost over $100 and a tooth that needs a root canal and crown can cost well over $1,000 to restore.

9 – Water Fluoridation Benefits Everyone

Even people who don’t live in areas with fluoridated water consume food products that were packaged in areas with fluoridated water.  By consuming foods and drinks processed in areas with water fluoridation, they can obtain the benefits of water fluoridation.

This is has sometimes been called the fluoridation halo effect and can be likened to the benefits of herd immunity that occurs with vaccinations.

10 – Water Fluoridation is Recognized As One of the Great Public Health Achievements of the 20th Century

The CDC included water fluoridation on their list of ten great public health achievements between 1900 and 1999.  The CDC has this to say about the impact of water fluoridation:

“Fluoridation of drinking water began in 1945 and in 1999 reaches an estimated 144 million persons in the United States. Fluoridation safely and inexpensively benefits both children and adults by effectively preventing tooth decay, regardless of socioeconomic status or access to care. Fluoridation has played an important role in the reductions in tooth decay (40%-70% in children) and of tooth loss in adults (40%-60%.)”

Pro Water Fluoridation Resources

If you want to learn more about the benefits of water fluoridation, here’s two great PDF brochures from the ADA and CDC and another helpful webpage.

What’s Your Take?

I’d love to hear what you think about water fluoridation in the comments section below!

Do you think I left out any important reasons to support water fluoridation?  Do you disagree?

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Water Fluoridation Week on Oral Answers
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66 years ago this week, Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first city to add fluoride to its public water supplies.   Since then, a great debate has ensued regarding whether or not public water supplies should be artificially fluoridated.

Drinking Fountain Fluoridated WaterIn 1962, the United erectile dysfunction States government recommended that water be fluoridated with 0.7 to 1.2 PPM (How much is a PPM?)  Most water systems ended up fluoridating their water right around 1 PPM.  You can find out how much fluoride is in your tap water here.   Just over three weeks ago, the United States Department of Health and Human Services lowered the upper recommended limit of fluoride in public water to simply 0.7 PPM.

This week, I will take a close look at both sides of the fluoride debate and publish three different articles about water fluoridation:

1 – 10 Reasons to Support Water Fluoridation (Tuesday)
2 – 10 Reasons to Oppose Water Fluoridation (Wednesday)
3 – My Opinion on Water Fluoridation (Friday)

If you have any opinions on water fluoridation that you’d like to share, go ahead and leave them in the comments section below.

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Water Fluoridation Debate One Sided
©Sheftsoff/Shutterstock.com

I read an opinion piece about water fluoridation this past Wednesday written by Katherine Kelly.  Katherine was one of the people who sponsored Measure A on Crescent City, California’s ballot, which would put a stop to water fluoridation in Crescent City.

Water Fluoridation ArgumentsIn her editorial she brings up two scientific sources, one from the American Dental Association and one from the Centers for Disease Control.  She acts like both of these sources have “admitted” that water fluoridation isn’t effective.  I took a look at both of these articles, and here’s what I found.

The ADA Article on Water Fluoridation

Katherine says that the American Dental Association article “clarified for every dentist that the swallowing of fluoride presents no significant benefit, that if there is a benefit it would be from applying it to the surface of the tooth.”

Let’s look at what John Featherstone, the author of the ADA’s cover story in July 2000, actually said:

“Fluoride, the key agent in battling caries, works primarily via topical mechanisms: inhibition of demineralization, enhancement of remineralization and inhibition of bacterial enzymes.”

Water Fluoridation: A Hotly Debated TopicDr. Featherstone also suggested that we “exploit [fluoride’s] known effects on bacteria, inhibition of demineralization and enhancement of remineralization by using ‘topical’ fluoride delivery by means of dental products, drinking water, beverages and foods.”

So, the author stated that fluoride works by being in direct contact with teeth.  Drinking fluoridated water puts it in contact with teeth, so he supports the fluoridation of drinking water based on his statement.

The CDC Article on Water Fluoridation

Katherine also mentioned that the CDC stated in 2001 that water fluoridation was one of the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.  She goes on to say the following:

On page 4 of the same report [the] CDC declares there is no correlation between fluoride incorporated in the enamel of teeth due to ingestion and the incidence of tooth decay.  Whoa! Shouldn’t this have halted fluoridation? Well not necessarily, because the support of fluoridation by seemingly prestigious groups was not about fact, it was about endorsements of the public policy goal.

By saying this, Katherine makes it seem like the CDC is contradicting itself and that it really doesn’t know what it’s talking about when it comes to water fluoridation.  The CDC was simply stating that fluoride’s role in preventing cavities isn’t by getting incorporated into the tooth as a result of swallowing it.  Water fluoridation protects the teeth by increasing the fluoride concentration in the mouth, allowing the fluoride to get incorporated into teeth by coming in direct contact with them.

If you have any doubts about the CDC’s position on water fluoridation, here’s one of their pages describing the benefits of fluoride.

Why does fluoride make teeth stronger?  Click here to read why!

It’s Not Just Opponents of Fluoride That Tell Half-Truths

I don’t mean to put down Katherine for what she wrote.  Even as a dental student, I’m not sure where I stand on the water fluoridation issue.  It is very complex!

Despite there being arguments both for and against water fluoridation, it doesn’t seem that either side recognizes the valid claims its opponent makes.  This refusal to either address the opposing view or to admit that the other side has any credibility at all weakens the argument of both sides.

One striking difference between these two groups are how they define fluoride.

How the American Dental Association Defines Fluoride

The American Dental Association defines fluoride as follows in their Fluoridation Facts booklet:

Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound that can help prevent dental decay.  Fluoride compounds are components of minerals in rocks and soil.  Water passes over rock formations and dissolves the fluoride compounds that are present, releasing fluoride ions.  The result is that small amounts of fluoride are present in all water sources.

How a Prominent Anti-Fluoride Researcher Defines Fluoride

John Yiamouyiannis, one of the anti-fluoridation movement’s greatest supporters defines fluoride as follows in his publication The Lifesaver’s Guide to Fluoride:

Fluoride is a poison and has been used as a pesticide. It is more poisonous than lead and just slightly less poisonous than arsenic. Procter & Gamble, the makers of Crest, acknowledges that a family-sized tube of fluoride toothpaste “theoretically, at least, contains enough fluoride to kill a small child.” While no one is going to die from drinking one glass of fluoridated water, just as no one will die from smoking one cigarette, it is the longer-term chronic effects of glass after glass of fluoridated water that takes its toll in human health — and life.

Both Sides Fail to State the Whole Truth

Reading the ADA’s definition, you would think that we should all be getting an optimal amount of fluoride to prevent tooth decay.  John Yiamouyiannis’ definition makes me want to get as far away from fluoride as I can.

The ADA doesn’t mention that fluoride is a poison when ingested in sufficient quantities.  John Yiamouyiannis failed to mention that fluoride is able to make teeth more resistant to cavities.

A Neutral Voice

I enjoy discussing the water fluoridation issue.  In fact, in one of my classes next week I will be participating with another student in a debate on the subject of water fluoridation.  I will be arguing against water fluoridation.  Preparing for this debate has helped me learn a LOT about this topic.

I’ll be posting a lot more articles on water fluoridation in the future.  If you have any issues you would like me to address, leave them below in the comments section.  Thanks for reading!

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Pots & Pans Fluoride
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Did you know that you could be tripling the level of fluoride in your water just by cooking in a Teflon-coated pot or pan?  Similarly, you can also cut the amount of fluoride in your water by boiling it in an aluminum pot for just 15 minutes.

Are Your Pots and Pans Altering Fluoride Levels?You may think that you never boil water.  However, many people use water for cooking.  If you’ve made macaroni & cheese or another pasta, rice, oatmeal, or mashed potatoes lately, then you’ve probably boiled water.

Back in 1975, some researchers had a question.  They wondered whether the type of container in which you cook food can have an effect on the fluoride content of what you eat.  You can read the complete study by clicking the following link (FYI – It is in PDF form so it may take a bit to load): Effect of cooking vessel composition on fluoride. By: Full, CA and Parkins, FM.

The Procedure of this Fluoride Study

The researchers analyzed a community’s water supply and found that it had 1 PPM of fluoride (click here to find out how much a PPM is)  They then took one pint (16 fluid ounces or two cups) of water and boiled it in one of four different containers.  They used an aluminum pot, a stainless steel pot, a Pyrex bowl, and a Teflon pot.  They turned the heat on high to obtain a rolling boil, and then reduced the heat “to maintain a moderate degree of boiling for 15 minutes.”  Next, they put the water in a clean bottle for storage and tested each sample to see how the boiling had affected the fluoride levels.  They even had a “control” bottle of water to ensure that their testing was accurate.

Their two significant findings were that the Teflon coated cooking vessel tripled the fluoride concentration from 1 PPM up to 3 PPM.  They also found that the aluminum pot reduced the fluoride concentration of the water from 1 PPM down to 0.3 PPM.  The Pyrex and stainless steel pots altered fluoride content slightly, but not enough to be statistically significant.

A Bar Graph of the Results

Here is a graph that I adapted from the paper showing the quantity of fluoride in PPM that was found in the water after boiling it for 15 minutes in the pot/pan made of that particular material.   If you’re not sure what a PPM of fluoride is, read this article to find out how much a PPM is.

Fluoride Levels of Boiled Water
A bar graph showing the increase in the fluoride concentration in the water boiled in Teflon and a decrease in the fluoride concentration of the water boiled in the aluminum pot.  Modified from graph in original study.

Why Did Teflon and Aluminum Change the Fluoride Level of the Water?

Teflon is actually the brand name for Polytetrafluoroethylene, which is a compound that contains only carbon atoms bonded to fluoride ions.  In fact, it contains more than twice as many fluoride ions as carbon atoms.  When water is boiled, some of the fluoride ions get dissolved into the water, thus increasing the fluoride concentration in the water.  You can read more about Teflon on Wikipedia.

As for the aluminum, the researchers guessed that the aluminum was reacting with the fluoride to form the compound Aluminum Fluoride.  Whether the compound stayed on the pan or formed in the water was not known.

Conclusion

I found this interesting that the type of metal our pots and pans are made of can affect the fluoride concentration in what we cook.  I am currently studying a lot about fluoride and water fluoridation.  I don’t think that the findings of this study really support or oppose water fluoridation, but it is interesting to know that we may be getting different amounts of fluoride from our water depending on what we do with it.

What do you think?  If you have any opinions, comments, or questions about fluoride levels in your water, please leave them in the comments section below.

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Alkaline Water and Teeth
©Tarasyuk Igor/Shutterstock.com

Have you heard of alkaline water?  If not, you might soon hear about it from a multi-level-marketer near you. Earlier this week, I talked with an alkaline water marketer for five or ten minutes about it.  He talked about all of the benefits of alkaline water and even called it “nature’s water” or something similar to that.

Alkaline WaterI wasn’t familiar with alkaline water, so I decided to read up on it. As I browsed several websites, I noticed a trend.  Nearly all of the supporters of alkaline water are selling something, and those who oppose it seem to agree that its supporters are only supporting it to make money.

As I read over some of the claims, some of them were outrageous, and others were completely false.  If I didn’t have a strong background in the life sciences, I might have been fooled. One claim in particular caught my eye.  The author of a website claims that alkaline water can improve your oral health.  Here’s a couple of ways that alkaline water might improve your oral health, and my thoughts about them.

Can Alkaline Water Help Re-mineralize Your Teeth?

If you’ve read my article about the nine types of drinks that can dissolve your teeth, you probably know that acids are harmful to your teeth.  Alkaline water is basic (the opposite of an acid), so it might make sense that alkaline water would help your teeth.  After all, if acidic drinks dissolve your teeth, wouldn’t it make sense that alkaline drinks would re-build your teeth?  Actually, no. When acidic drinks dissolve your teeth, they take away the minerals that make up the enamel.  Thankfully, your body has a built-in mechanism to replace these minerals via your saliva.  Alkaline water can’t re-mineralize your teeth by replacing tooth structure.

Can Alkaline Water Neutralize Acids That Break Down Teeth?

Whenever you eat anything containing sugar or starch, it can be eaten by the bacteria in your mouth.  These bacteria then excrete acid right onto your teeth.  This acid can slowly eat away at your teeth.  If you don’t remove the bacteria daily through brushing and flossing, then the acid that they excrete will eventually cause a cavity in your tooth.  For more about how plaque destroys your teeth, read What Every Human Needs To Know About Plaque. In theory, alkaline water could neutralize the acid that the plaque produce and inhibit a cavity from forming.  However, you would have to swish it around in your mouth a lot to ensure that it was able to contact the acid under the sticky layer of plaque.  Most people when drinking alkaline water probably don’t bother to swish it around in their mouths, they simply swallow it down to their acidic stomachs. Although alkaline water could be used to neutralize acid, it is probably more simple to deprive the acid-producing bacteria of their food source by rinsing your mouth out with water to get rid of the sugar or eating some fresh vegetables to clean your teeth. If you really want to neutralize the acid, try mixing a teaspoon of baking soda into some warm water and swishing it around in your mouth.  This will produce some “alkaline water” at a fraction of the cost.

Conclusion

Alkaline water can’t re-build your teeth’s enamel or heal a cavity.  It could theoretically neutralize the acid in your mouth after eating something sugary, but it’s probably not terribly effective.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any scientific peer-reviewed articles on this specific subject. Finally, a word to the wise: It’s probably best to get your health information from someone who isn’t trying to sell you something.  If someone claims that their product can solve hundreds of health problems, it’s probably too good to be true.  If you want to see if a claim is backed up by real science, you can try performing a search of scientific papers at PubMed or Google Scholar free of charge. Do you have any questions or comments on alkaline water and oral health?  If so, leave them below in the comments section!